A group of 12 states are coming to bat for President Obama’s controversial immigration actions by filing a “friend of the court” brief to defend the policies in a lawsuit filed by more than 20 other states.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who leads the charge, filed the brief in a Texas federal court on Monday. Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia join him on the brief.  

“By properly using his authority to set enforcement priorities, the president’s action benefits Washington and other states by improving public safety, keeping families together, and aiding our economy,” Ferguson said in a statement. 


“Hard working, tax paying immigrants can now emerge from the shadows.”

Obama’s September decision to defer deportations for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants and allow them to apply for work permits has been criticized harshly from Republicans and some centrist Democrats.

The coalition of top prosecutors argue that the will bring more economic benefit to the country than harm. It cites an estimate from the liberal Center for American Progress that the changes will provide the states millions in tax revenues over the next five years.

California stands to benefit the most, according to the estimates, with $904 million in revenues over that period. Texas, the state that is leading the opposition in court, would receive $338 million in tax revenue according to the Center for American Progress.

The states also make legal arguments that the states don’t have the correct legal standing needed to file a challenge because of those benefits. A court would need to rule that the states have proper standing before allowing a case to continue.

But the suit led by former Texas Attorney General and Gov.-elect Greg Abbott charges Obama with executive overreach and violating the constitution. That complaint says the president isn’t abiding by his oath to execute Congressional laws, instead changing the law himself. The states also said that Obama’s actions will force states to pay more for health care, education and law enforcement while adding to undocumented immigration along the southern border. 


--This post was updated on Jan 12.